New publication by our member Maren Walter

Our member Maren Walter co-published a new paper in the Journal "Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans" titled: "Generation of Oceanic Internal Gravity Waves by a Cyclonic Surface Stress Disturbance".


Atmospheric cyclones with strong winds significantly impact ocean circulation, regional sea surface temperature, and deep water formation across the global oceans. Thus they are expected to play a key role in a variety of energy transport mechanisms. Even though wind-generated internal gravity waves are thought to contribute significantly to the energy balance of the deep ocean, their excitation mechanisms are only partly understood.

The present study investigates the generation of internal gravity waves during a geostrophic adjustment process in a Boussinesq model with axisymmetric geometry. The atmospheric disturbance is set by an idealized pulse of cyclonic wind stress with a Rankine vortex structure. Strength, radius and duration of the forcing are varied. The effect upon wave generation of stratification with variable mixed-layer depth is also examined.

Results indicate that internal gravity waves are generated after approximately one inertial period. The outward radial energy flux is dominated by waves having structure close to vertical mode-1 and with frequency close to the inertial frequency. Less energetic higher mode waves are observed to be generated close to the sea floor underneath the storm. The total radiated energy corresponds to approximately 0.02% of the wind input. Deeper mixed-layer conditions as well as weaker stratification reduce this fraction.

The low energy transfer rates suggest that other processes that drive vertical motion like surface heat fluxes, turbulent motion, mixed region collapse and storm translation are essential for significant energy extraction by internal gravity waves to occur.

Download it here.